discussion: parenthetical and sentence definitions

I recommend you complete the activity on practicing with definitions before completing this assignment. 

Understanding how to define simple terms for an audience–for example, in a letter, email, or memo–will help you in the professional work place. Thinking about the grammatical construction of definitions will help you practice some of the skills you need for your extended definition. 

STEP 1: 

For 1-5, rewrite each sentence so that it includes a parenthetical definition for the italicized term. 

For example, if I were going to rewrite this sentence

  • She needed to take her insulin or else she was going to be very ill very soon.

I could write any of these as my answer:

  • She needed to take her insulin (a diabetes medication) or else she was going to be very ill very soon.
  • She needed to take her insulin, a medication for diabetes, or else she was going to be very ill very soon.

NOTE: Both definitions are grammatically correct sentences. If the parenthetical is too long, switches tenses, etc, it could make the sense hard to understand. A good strategy is to try to find a commonly-understood synonym. 

1. Reluctantly, he decided to drop the physics course. 

2. The Anthropology Club decided to use crowdfunding to finance the semester’s dig in Utah. 

3. She needed to pay her tuition if she was going to stay enrolled.

4. The tire plant was forced to layoff half of its workforce.

5. She asked him to please debug the software because it was glitching.

STEP 2: 

For 6-10, write a one sentence definition for each term.  (Remember the structure of the sentence should be term-category-distinguishing characteristics. These must be complete sentences.)

For example, if I were going to define wind turbine I could write:

  • A wind turbine is a device that converts wind the wind’s kinetic energy into electrical energy. 

Here, I’ve defined a wind turbine as a device first (category), then explained how it’s different from other devices.

I can also say:

  • A wind turbine is a green technology that uses the wind to create electrical energy.

In this case, I’ve defined a wind turbine as green technology, then explained how it’s different from other green technologies.

Think carefully about the category you choose and then differentiate the term from other items in that category. 

NOTE: You should write complete, stand-alone sentences. And incorrect answer would be:  “Wind Turbine: a green technology using wind.”

6. job interview

7. social media

8. recycle

9. smartphone

10. hashtag

After you post, please find two other students’ posts to comment on.  You might point out:

  • how a definition they wrote was better than yours
  • how a difference in their definition changed the meaning
  • how a definition could be improved. 

Here’s how you’ll be graded:

  • Discussion post is well-developed, thorough, and detailed. Responds to assigned text(s) or prompt. (8 points)
  • Discussion responses to peers are detailed and thorough, showing thoughtful engagement with peers’ original posts. Two peer responses posted. (5 points)
  • Both discussion posts and responses to peers show evidence of proofreading and editing. (2 points)
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